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By Mick Underhill, Mar 6 2015 03:54PM

Its not about what you've done, its what you are going to do next

Its been a great start to the year for Underhill Project Controls. We have been producing a plethora of quality documentation for some very busy clients from pre-qualification submissions....to full tender bids....to producing construction programmes for imminent starts. All of what we have produced this year is sending the same message to the reader;

'This is exactly what we are going to do for you'

Submission documents have been detailing how long it will take to deliver the project, how safe the site will be run, the quality that will be achieved.....and what it is going to cost client. One thing is for sure, there needs to be a positive plan to show how you, the contractor, will deliver to your clients expectation and beyond. Following this we need to regularly report back to him to prove that our project plan is correct. One great tool for this is the Dashboard Report

What to include in the report? The list is endless but time, cost, resource & material usage are all important. The client may well have his own ideas on Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to include. Include what is useful to the reader, ignore the superfluous where possible.

Once you have decided what aspects of the project to monitor and report on, the fundamental thing to concentrate on is the accuracy of the raw data. If the programme information is poor then the dashboard will offer poor guidance to the Project Manager. He will live life in blissful ignorance of impending doom or conversely be rushing around like a headless chicken wasting valuable project resource accelerating something that doesn't require such priority.

It is imperative that you produce quality programmes with input from your team, where durations are based on constant rates with agreed time risk allowances. The logic links must sound by constructive investigation at time of building up the programme, (maybe even as a result of a collaborative planning exercise with your supply chain).

Dashboards aren't new, and Project Managers will have different experiences of using them, as such we can all get carried away with negative and positives of Dashboard reporting but essentially your base project tool "The Programme" needs to be right.

As I have suggested a client's view of the project is not about what we have done so we also don't just report historical data, forecasting is the most important skill in Project Management and Control. So we record the progress and data and if forward or behind the plan, we transpose it forward and compare to the plan. The Project Manager can then know - potentially - what awaits him.

If the status quo isn't acceptable for timely completion then, working with the team, the Project Manager can then revise the plan by a variety of methods including increasing plant and/or labour, introducing overtime or exploiting concurrent activity.

The bottom line is projects run more smoothly with unambiguous communication and accurate data with which to make informed decisions.

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